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Endangered Moth Spotted In Lancashire

John Freeman

An endangered moth species has been recorded by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside on Warton Crag Nature Reserve, the first record for the reserve.

The Barred Tooth-Striped Moth (which has the scientific name Trichopteryx polycommata) is currently known only from a small number of locations in the UK and is a priority species for conservation under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The last confirmed record for the Warton Crag area was in the 1960s.

The caterpillars of this moth feed on wild privet in May and June, before overwintering as pupae. Adult moths emerge the following year and are on the wing for just a few weeks in April.

Habitat preferred by Barred Tooth-striped includes open woodland glades and limestone outcrops, both of which are features of the Wildlife Trust reserve.

Barred Tooth-striped was recorded this year through survey work carried out by Trust staff and volunteers. Light traps were set up after dark in areas of wild privet to attract in moths, which could then be identified before release.

Warton Crag already supports populations of several butterfly and moth species of national conservation concern, including High Brown Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus, Pearl-bordered and Small pearl-bordered Fritillaries, as well as the rare day-flying White-spotted Sable moth (Anania funebris).

The Trust has been undertaking a project to benefit these species on the Crag since early 2008 and work to enhance areas of habitat for Barred Tooth-striped will now be included.

In the past, the moth has been found on woodland edge and scrub on limestone around the Silverdale area, extending eastwards to Dalton and Henridding.

Habitat management work and surveys are carried out by Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers year round, helping to maintain Warton Crag as a hugely important site for butterfly and moth conservation.

Other rare moths in our area include the Belted Beauty, rediscovered in Lancashire in 2001 on the coastal saltmarsh between Potts Corner and Sunderland Point and the Firester, found in damp flower-rich meadows in north Lancashire.

Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

Butterfly Conservation: Lancashire - Rare Moths Guide